Syntax/Semantics reading group, 10/04 – Carol-Rose Little

The syntax-semantics reading group meeting will take place Thursday October 4th at 1:30pm. If you haven’t done so, please register at the following link to join meetings:
This week, Carol-Rose Little will present work entitled Participant plurals across Mayan and the treatment of features
Drawing on data from the morphology of participant plurals across Mayan languages, I argue that we must treat person features as binary, rather than privative. To make the inclusive/exclusive distinction, I argue that Mayan languages utilize the same set of features, but the way these features are spelled out varies across the languages. I present data demonstrating that Mayan languages derive the inclusive/exclusive distinction form a generalized first person plural, and then add morphemes to this form to make a specified inclusive or exclusive form. Some Mayan languages have a more specified inclusive form (e.g., Itzaj), whereas other Mayan languages have a more specified exclusive form (e.g., Ch’ol). I argue that the template utilized across Mayan is best captured under a binary feature approach to person (e.g., Noyer 1992, Watanabe 2013) rather than a privative feature approach to person (e.g., Harley & Ritter 2002). I end with consequences of this analysis for capturing person crosslinguistically.

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